An employee benefits seller will expand basic preventive care coverage starting in January 2007.

Assurant Employee Benefits, Kansas City, Mo., a unit of Assurant Inc., New York, is launching a “Lifetime of Smiles” program that will replace the usual coverage for 2 cleanings per year with coverage for 2 routine cleanings per year and 2 gum cleanings per year.

The expanded package of basic benefits also will include coverage for tooth-colored fillings for back teeth and coverage for “brush biopsy” procedures that can detect cancer.

Some companies have expanded the basic preventive benefits for pregnant members and members with health problems, but Assurant Employee Benefits believes it is the first company to expand the standard benefits for all plan members.

Assurant Employee Benefits is expanding the basic benefits because of research that shows that improving dental care may lead to improvements in general health problems such as heart disease and diabetes, the company says.